US website


Understanding labour induction: A guide for expectant mothers

Understanding labour induction: A guide for expectant mothers

Pregnancy is a journey filled with excitement, anticipation and curiosity, especially as you near the end. For some women, induction of labour is something that may come into play.  This guide aims to provide clear information about inducing labour, explaining its purposes, processes, and what you, as an expectant mother, can expect.

What is labour induction?

Labour induction is a medical intervention that artificially starts labour.  Occasionally this is needed because it is safer for you or your baby to deliver sooner than waiting for natural labour to begin.  Understanding a bit more about labour induction can take away some of the myths and better prepare you for what lies ahead. 

Nowadays it is a common procedure; it is estimated that over 30% of pregnant women have their labour induced.  What is important, induction of labour gives a chance to complete a pregnancy by natural vaginal birth instead of by Caesarean section.

When is labour induction recommended?

There are many reasons to induce a labour, these are some of the more common:

  • Post-Term Pregnancy:  beyond 41st week.
  • Medical Conditions: Health concerns for the mother or baby, such as preeclampsia, diabetes, high blood pressure or baby´s growth restriction.
  • Premature rupture of membranes: The membranes have ruptured, but the labour has not started within a safe timeframe. 

Two step approach to induction

Labour induction generally involves two key steps:

  • Cervical Ripening: The first essential step in induction is to prepare the cervix for labour. The cervix needs to be soft, thin, and dilated to allow the baby to pass through. This initial step of ripening can be achieved through mechanical or pharmacological methods. DILAPAN-S represents one of non-hormonal (mechanical) method. Some women natural ripen their cervix toward the end of pregnancy and do not require this step, however this is more common in women who have given birth before. 
  • Initiating Contractions: Once the cervix is softened and ready, the next step is to start contractions. Contractions cause the cervix to continue to dilate and help move the baby down towards the birth canal during the labour process. During labour induction, contractions are usually stimulated with medications like oxytocin. In some cases, ripening of the cervix causes the mother’s body to release natural hormones and labour could start without the need for further intervention.

Labour induction can take a while from start to finish. Step 1, cervical ripening, can take between 12-24 hours before step two can even begin.  Once contractions initiation begins, this step can also take several hours until active labour is underway.  It is important to know this information so you can be prepared for the journey to childbirth. 

Managing uncertainty and anxiety

Induction of labour might be a source of concern as you head towards something new and unexplored. Do not worry; here are a few tips to ease the process.

  • Feeling anxious or uncertain about labour induction is natural. To manage these feelings:
  • Stay Informed: Knowledge about the process can alleviate fears.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Practices like deep breathing, gentle yoga or comforting music can help.
  • Support System: Having a partner, family member, or doula can provide emotional support and encouragement.
  • Open Communication: Always feel free to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider. 

Possible risks and complications

Like any medical procedure, labour induction, has the potential for unexpected risk or complications, such as overstimulation of contractions, changes in the baby’s heart rate or the need for a C/section.  Your medical team will closely monitor you and your baby to manage any risks effectively.

Methods of labour induction

As mentioned above, labour induction can be a two-step process, step 1 is cervical ripening and step 2 is induction of labour. Some women only need 1 step and some need both. These steps can be achieved by two basic methods:    

  • Mechanical methods, including membrane sweeping, DILAPAN-S or balloon catheters.
  • Hormonal methods, including administering medication which contains artificial hormones, including prostaglandins and oxytocin.

Both mechanical and hormonal methods can be used for step 1.  In approximately 20-30% of women, the cervix is already ripened and in these cases, cervical ripening is not necessary, an oxytocin drip may be administered as the only step in labour induction to stimulate contractions. 

Introducing DILAPAN-S: A non-pharmacological approach

DILAPAN-S, a small cervical dilator made from a hygroscopic gel, offers a non-hormonal method for cervical ripening. The dilator, just a little bigger than a matchstick, is placed into the cervix, where it gradually absorbs fluid and gently expands. This results in both softening and opening of the cervix, preparing it for the next stage of labour.

Why choose DILAPAN-S?

DILAPAN-S is a hormone free product designed with safety in mind. It ensures a predictable and controlled approach to cervical ripening, while offering gentleness and comfort to women who are undergoing induction.


Labor induction, including the use of methods like DILAPAN-S for cervical ripening, is a common and often necessary part of the childbirth process. It’s important to remember that every pregnancy and labour experience is unique, and your healthcare provider will guide you through the best course for your specific needs. Armed with this knowledge, you can approach the possibility of induction with confidence, prepared for the next exciting phase of your journey into motherhood.

Note: This content is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice. Consult your clinician for personalized guidance and treatment.

Most read articles